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By boat by the largest river in the world
It’s been over a month since we left Brazil and finish the saga: navigate the Amazon. Even though a very detailed script, Edu had some excerpts for the trip. And the first of them (which was pretty eager to do) was the crossing of Amazon river by boat. =)
The idea is basically to navigate the Amazon River and arrive in Peru by boat through the tri-border area: Tabatinga (Brazil), Leticia (Colombia) and Iquitos (Peru). It’s been over a month since we came out of Brazil and that journey ended and the day has come to tell you everything that happened.
The beginning of the journey by boat along the Amazon river
From the beginning, the idea of this stretch of the trip was to get out of Brazil and enter in Peru by boat. And that’s what we did. We were in Natal and Edu had the idea to go to Macapá, the only capital of Brazil you can’t reach by land, only boat or plane. And from there we would start the boat trip.
When Edu commented on this leg of the journey faaaaaaar ago I went searching as it was. I found several sites, but many with 2 dates, 3 years ago. I saw that basically the trip was made, and it took days among the excerpts. But as the navigation really started, I saw that it was far more modernized and simple.
So, I’m going to give a spoiler: travel by boat is an experience worth every minute. Not to get a big jumble, I think it makes sense to tell about any part of the navigation.
The route from point to point
The full itinerary was divided into five sections. Three of them were large vessels with load floors, cabin, hammock area and the other 2 were snippets with go-fast boats, which are small boats (compared to the first 3 boats) with a single-deck, full of armchairs, i.e., like of bus on water…LOL
The first leg was between Macapá and Belém, this excerpt during 18 hours.
The second leg was between Belém and Santarém, this excerpt during 2 and a half days.
The third leg was between Santarém to Manaus and excerpt 2 and a half days too.
The fourth and penultimate stretch was from Manaus to Tabatinga and were 36 hours sailing
By last we left Santa Rosa to Iquitos on 10:00 (SPOILER ALERT: this was the more “exciting” … LOL).
Stretch 1: from Macapá to Belém
We arrived (in April) by plane, but we already knew that from there we were leaving by boat. This was the first stretch we did. When I had researched a little about these boat trips I saw a lot of people traveling, but I’ve seen reports saying there were also booths. We went back to find out what it would be like the boat to Bethlehem and as expected was network option and the cabin.
Are actually three options of how to travel: cabin, hammock area or hammock area with air conditioning. Yes, the vessel is chic! LOL
The boats don’t go out daily. When did the navigation in April they come out on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, but from what I understand it changes a lot. So, if you intend to one day make this trip I think is to find out in loco the days and times.
About the price, the cabin costs $75 per person. If you are alone and want to the booth, runs the risk of sharing with a stranger. To travel in the hammock area is $35 normal and $45 the hammock area with air conditioning. Each takes its own hammock, so in addition to this cost of hammock area, can include the cost of the hammock itself.
There’s hammock costing $6 to $21, in all materials and colors that you could imagine. And the cool thing is that eventually, the journey is a mega colorful by different hammocks so much that we see on the boat. But … as was the first leg and it’s not something we used to do we decided to go from cabin to see what it would be like (namely, that picture up there is merely illustrative … only for now…) And it was fun.
The cabin is very small, with a bunk bed and a tiny bathroom…in short is a mini-corridor but was great to sleep and take a shower. Had air conditioning! O_O We felt it would be safer to take the cabin to leave our backpacks and bags there and so don’t worry.
We arrived 1 hour before departure (output was scheduled for 4:00 pm). We left things in the cabin and went for a ride to meet the boat.
These boats are huge, nothing like a cruise one, but really big if you compare to a sailboat… this from Macapá to Belém was about 3 floors. Usually, the first floor is the cargo floor, the first has cabins and redeário and the third has hammock area with air conditioning and on top of all this, the icing on the cake: the bar. Yes, there’s a bar on all boats. LOL
And has music, a lot of music. Music, music in a loop, music out loud, music 24 hours per day.
This first stretch lasted 18 hours only. Talking about 18 hours of travel, so it seems it is time-consuming, but it goes by fast. As we were with our stuff stored in the cabin, we spend most of the trip on the terrace of the boat watching the margin had to show us.
The bar was on the top floor, but above it, there was a terrace with some tables. On the floor of the bar, there are tables and a really huge sound box with rolling TV shows and music videos.
On the floor of the bar, people is enjoying their beers and playing dominoes. Yes, dominoes in the north/northeast is serious business! My great-aunt on my mother’s side is from the Northeast and I remember as a child was watching her play dominoes with mastery. Featured play and everything else. From there on the boat, I remembered that. The guys play for real. F-O-R R-E-A-L! Didn’t fight or anything, but it was frantic and the game was going on all day.
Traveling by boat is an exercise in patience and contemplation. After some time, you can get bored to see always the same landscape, “but there’s always something to watch on the riverbank. Don’t expect to see many wild animals. At most, you will see birds even. As the boat is pretty big, I guess he just watches the local wildlife and no animal will come on a riverbank or jump in the water.
Even so, we have beautiful visions, like these:
Well, we got the boat at 3:00 pm and only we would arrive in Bethlehem at 6:00 pm the next day … so, you should be there wondering (I would be because it’s all I can think about … well, not only, but quite): “And food? Habemus?” On the second floor of the boat, there at the bottom of the hammock area, had a cafeteria.
This restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everything well-organized schedules defined for each meal. Who you wanted to, you could eat in the cafeteria or bring food in takeout and eat somewhere else (cabin, bar, terrace, network). The food is not very elaborate, but it was well-done (We hardly knew that the menu It would be a constant in the coming weeks). Basically: rice, beans, pasta, salad and meat that could be chicken or beef. And Yes, you read that right … is rice AND noodles at the same time…LOL Lots of carbs!
Of course, if you do not want one, just ask. The dish came out $5,00 per person. Holding well the famine, but the dinner ended too soon and hit a hungry anymore at the end of the night, we kill with some cookies that already got there at the port of Macapa before catching the boat.
As I mentioned, the ground floor of the boat is a loading floor. And there is no charge. Banana has the car.
When I was at night already, I think around 12:00 am, saw something that marked my memory. There are some riverside communities along the river and at that point, the trip the boat slows down to almost stop and a smaller boat from shore kind docks next to so they can take the load of a score t…o the tiny boat…
That was responded in part to my question when I started the mental journey that was: “How do they get supplies to these riverine communities?” That part where they downloaded the boat less took almost 2:00, so I also think this is why the trip during 18 hours.
In addition, the travel time will depend on whether you are going for or against the current. In our case, we were going against and this affects the path time for more.
After spending the day on the terrace, trying to watch the starry sky (was a little cloudy and didn’t happen much) and looking at the guys unloading the boat, we went to sleep. Our cabin was right behind the cockpit, wall with a wall. And unlike the song heard in the bar, the Commander was listening to the classics like Joy Division … a very unusual counterpoint …
Sleep was very quiet. The ship is large and the swing is smooth. Gives up a good cradled for sleep. For me, it was a great start of the Amazon trip this first stretch by boat. You could imagine that the second sentence would also be awesome. But you know what life is like, huh? The life, Oh life … This shameless!
Stretch 2: from Belém to Santarém
Belém had been an interesting city, but it’s not for the weak (don’t get the reference? Check it out). So, we were excited to come soon in Santarém. Actually what we’d do was stop in Santarém and from there proceed to Alter do Chão. And that’s what we did.
Alter do Chão did not disappoint, and if you haven’t seen our passage there, just click here. 😉
We were in Belém and I googled to try to find out the naughty days and timetables of the boats to Santarém. He found a travel agency and I found some people talking about a terminal near “Estação das Docas”. As the Edu was a freak about this kind of monopoly of travel agencies, we got on a map and went straight into this waterway terminal.
He is to the left of the dock (in the opposite direction to the Center). It’s not hard to find and if you ask the people will help you to find it. We got there and the terminal is brand new and beautiful.
On the door of the terminal are several men who will try to sell boat tickets. Right off the bat, we reject for fear. But there was nobody in the cages we needed. Hence we find that these gentlemen were as “authorized resellers” and they helped us find a time and a spot to go to Santarém.
Just as in the first stretch, the days and times are specified and there isn’t boat every day. In the end what happens is that there’s basically one or two boats that make the path and everyone (agencies and these guys) sell tickets to these boats. After a little roller between “there’s an opening on that such day such time …”, “That’s only hammocks …”, we got a cab on a day that would be nice for us.
I was dying to travel in hammocks and see how it was, but as the cabin had been cool, turned out to be safe and Edu had worked hard and was very tired, we chose to go in a cabin again. This time came out $105 for a butt! I thought it was expensive … expensive as hell, actually. But, c’est la vie. If we were to be the same hammock of another boat $30/$50 (the more expensive for hammock area with air conditioning).
Well, the ship was very similar to the first, except that the part of the terrace was along with the bar. Needless to say, we were there almost the whole trip!
And in this stretch of the journey, the banks keep many interesting views. Again, you can see wild animals in addition to the birds, but there is a much riverside community. The houses are not glued to each other. So the “neighbors” are not “door next door”. What does that mean? You will see a lot of a kid riding a boat to go meet with their friends.
In this section, the River makes enough curve and varies between keep and get to places where the banks can have 22 km away from each other. Is something indescribable! A wilderness only. You can see the two banks, but see lááááá away. I thought it was sensational because I thought that was big, but not this way. And if you look at a map, you can’t imagine it’s something so massive.
And the boat has always watered the music! How has plenty of travel time, you will hear the same song a few times. LOL But that if you are at bar or terrace. In the hammock area no longer hear anything. The playlist goes from Wesley Safadão (a famous Brazilian singer) to forró and “brega”, two local rhythms. It’s fun to watch the letters and many songs I recognized as versions of American songs. Loved!
The food was the same: rice, beans, salad (a slice of tomato, just for the record) and some meat.
This stretch of the journey was not only perfect becaaaaaaause … our cabin was full of cockroach!!! ARGH! OK, no sewer roaches as we see in the city, but those small, you know? As there’s a lot of food on the loading floor, I think the fumigation was not good. Tried to kill some, insecticide, but the damned play always appeared.
The first night I didn’t even notice them, but the second night I squeezed me in bed downstairs with Edu … LOL
Outside the cockroaches walking around the bed, everything went well in this stretch. =)
Stretch 3: from Santarém to Manaus
We arrived in Santarém in the morning and before we take the bus to Alter do Chão, we went at the point of sale of the boat to Manaus. Once again, it’s not every day that comes out, but this time we knew more or less the dates and schedule better.
At the time of purchase was that stalemate: cabin or hammock? I was super excited about the travel in a hammock to get to experience, the Edu was afraid. However, as we had that unhappiness of roaches in the previous boat, we get the same hammock.
When we got back from Alter do Chão to take the boat, a few hours before, we went to see the “Encontro das Águas” (meeting of the waters, where the Amazon River and the Rio Negro meet and there you can see where a “straight arrow begins and another ends”) and buy our hammocks.
As I commented there at the beginning, you should bring your own hammock. And have hammocks for all tastes: from single, double, nylon, fabric … it cost of $6 until $20. We bought two that seemed ok (because we weren’t going to use so many times like this) and the ropes to tie the hammock. Everything was $15.
We got on the boat and we choose our locations. We took on the second floor (where the hammock area without air conditioning is) more to the center of the hammock area. There I left things on the floor and I was trying to tie the hammock…rs
Throughout the hammock area has hooks and if your hammock is large enough, it can be until you don’t need a rope, just that it wasn’t our case. I started tying trying to remember the tips of the node Disney “Scout’s Manual”, unsuccessful attempt.
A super nice mister saw our little drama and offered to help us, in a minute he passed the rope over here, over there, above, below…and ready! The node was perfect and I could still give a regulated on height! Look at the art masterpiece:
O que o homem que me ajudou a amarrar a rede uniu…ninguém separa! Rs #nodemarinheiro #travel #traveling #traveler #instatravel #instago #instagood #trip #photooftheday #fun #travelling #tourism #tourist #instapassport #instatraveling #mytravelgram #travelgram #travelingram #igtravel #instalife #instalive #lovelife #ilove #travelblog #instago #divademochila #rolezinpelomundo #viajando A photo posted by Margareth Vasconcellos (@divademochila) on
He saved the day! I confess that I tried to learn but not hooked all the laps. So when the trip is over and I took the hammock, let the rope tied up and gently undid the knot not … 😉
And with the network properly tied, began the saga “Back Pack Diva in a hammock over the Amazon Boat” …
Divando no barco a caminho de Manaus. Rs #travel #traveling #travelbyboat #traveler #instatravel #instago #instagood #trip #photooftheday #fun #travelling #tourism #tourist #instapassport #instatraveling #mytravelgram #travelgram #travelingram #igtravel #instalife #instalive #lovelife #ilove #travelblog #instago #divademochila #rolezinpelomundo #wanderlust #viajando #viajandodebarco #backpack
The ship was basically the same as the others: three floors, hammock areas, cabins, dining hall … only a bit larger than the previous ones. In fact, my sense is that the boats grew a little more each stretch.
This boat had enough stop. Many people land in towns and cities that are along the river, which is not to say that the boat docking at a port, often comes a little boat to shore, get people and back to shore.
As we were in hammocks, this time we were more in the hammock area than on the terrace. For safety reasons of bags and backpacks, not go out at the same time the hammocks to get things done. It is pretty cool to watch because people get help and each (which is in the nearby hammocks) looks at things from one another.
One thing that worried me that it was time to sleep … in one of the other boats I saw that the light from the hammock area was illuminated late. I asked one of the crews, who said they wouldn’t put the lights on grounds because of theft. But that wasn’t the case in this boat, they dimmed the lights and kept only those weak safety lamps, you know? Well good.
A detail that I was a little not knowing if I was going to be good was the bathroom. Well, with the cabin, we had a private bathroom. But here, the bathrooms are collectives.
At the bottom of the hammock area were the bathrooms, five for each gender.
And I found the bathroom larger than the cabin was very smooth to use. You just need to get organized and taking a towel, SOAP, clothes, and slippers (not very wise to go barefoot, right?).
We do not use regulars towels, we have one of those that is made to dry fast. It still looked wet and we left hanging from the side of the hammock to dry. Everyone does it, it’s normal.
In this stretch of the journey, as we were traveling in a hammock, I could hear some interesting stories. The one that caught my eye was a lady who was selling champagne bottles. She said to a friend of the different types of bottled and told that taking one for the females problems and she just getting pregnant….and she had 45 years! o.o
Yes, that is a nice bottle.
In the end, this was my favorite stretch all the way from the boat (#spoilerforgoodreasons). I slept well on the net, I have seen and heard many interesting things and got great memories.
Stretch 4: from Manaus to Tabatinga
Here is where officially left the Brazil and enter in Peru. Actually, technically, our first foreign country was Colombia. That’s because we took a boat from Manaus to Tabatinga, in the triple border.
The triple border is formed by Tabatinga (Brazil), Leticia (Colombia) and Santa Rosa (Peru).
Well, in Manaus we found that we could go to Tabatinga in two ways:
1. Normal boat (as what we had gotten so far) that it would take 7 days
2. Speedboat, it would take 36 hours
Well, he didn’t have a lot to think about. Although we enjoyed the boat ride, 7 days on a hammock would be too much. So we opted to take the speed boat. I must confess, is a stab. $165 for the butt. Literally, because the boat is a fast boat from a single floor with an armchair that reclines!
Even so, we thought it was our best option. The times and days are specific and you can buy directly in the terminal, next to the port of Manaus. If you want to know more, have their website here.
The food was already included in the value of the ticket (phew!) and at the end was the same delicacy ever (rice, pasta, beans and meat) … LOL
The boat was full and had a few TVs around the room. In the 36 hours of trip rolled dozens of movies, which were repeated a few times. And it wasn’t any half-assed movie! This speedboat watched the acclaimed “the return” which won the Oscar to Leonardo DiCaprio.
Of course, needless to say, it was all illegal … and no sound.
In addition to this, I watch also “10 Mendamentos” a film made by a Brazilian TV station based on a soap opera, “Escape route” with the duo Stalone and Schwarzenegger and another action movie whose name I can’t remember. The picture up there don’t remember the name, but it was a guy in martial arts challenged by another man. Had never heard of the movie and this was already the part 3!!
After 36 hours in a chair that doesn’t recline, arrived at the port of Tabatinga at night. We came, we skip and then the guys of speedboat getting the bags and giving to people. A little confused, a little shoddy, but I hardly knew what was in store in Santa Rosa still.
The boat has a bathroom for each sex. Has a shower and everything else, but snugly.
The border between Tabatinga and Leticia is a street and when we arrived we took a taxi and went to Leticia where we spent a couple of days. But this is scenes of the next chapter.
I can say I thought it would be a lot worse this snippet. You can do without great suffering. I just think it’s too expensive and still was packed the launch.
Stretch 5: from Leticia to Iquitos
As I said, we were in Leticia in Colombia. But we don’t need to be or anything in the Passport. Leticia to Iquitos (our last destination of boat), we’d have to take a boat to Santa Rosa, a small island which is part of Peru.
And Santa Rosa would leave the boat to Iquitos. When we were in Leticia went behind the boat to Iquitos and we found that we could just buy the boat in Tabatinga (Is it logic? I don’t know …).
Then we went to Tabatinga and bought the boat. The currency in Leticia is weight, but in this travel agency in Tabatinga could pay with real weight or dollar. We did the math and it would be cheaper to pay in USD (this logic? I don’t either …). At the end came out $ 130 for both of us.
This was also a speedboat and take 10 hours from Santa Rosa to Iquitos.
For this we would have to make our way out of Brazil in the Federal Police, then one day before departure we went to Tabatinga to kick off. Neither 15mins and we were already with the passport stamped.
We returned on foot and when you cross the street from Brazil to Colombia, we take our last beer in Brazil with our recent R$5 … a Schin (a really cheap and bad Brazilian beer).
Well, the launch came out of Santa Rosa to Iquitos at 4:00. We reported what it would be like to go up to Santa Rosa and to our surprise, the last boat out of Leticia to Santa Rosa was at 7:00 pm. So, off we went.
The boat was tiny, it cost 5 soles for both and took 15 minutes or not. The boat arrives on the shore of the island, in the middle of the mire … He just pulls over and we have to go down there anyway. Well, ok … not always you can have glamor right?
Walk to the main street of Santa Rosa, in fact, the only road existed, going through a bridge that seemed built in workaround and spent over a stream “suspect”.
We walked the whole street till you get to the place where we would make entry into Peru. It was very quiet and the guy even asked: “How many days did you want? 90 okay? “, and so we won 90 days to take advantage of the Peru.
After the entry into the country, hunt a hotel that seemed less bad and we were there to wait for the departure in the early hours.
When he got close to the time we went to place where we take the boat. The guy who took the people stopped in a dark place as hell and when asked where he was, he indicated a wooden plateau in the middle of the water. OK. Put the bag in the back and head over there.
The point is that there was a connection between the Bank and the plateau of wood. We started walking through the mud, then over a small makeshift wooden bridge with a foot wide. At some point, she’d finish! LOL
There were a couple in front of what appeared to be local and I followed what they were doing. They went down that catwalk, walked through the mud and began to enter the boats that were stopped some alongside the other. And that’s what we did. W-E-I-R-D!
There were three boats to be able to actually reach the plateau. It stuck his foot in the mud, inside one of the boats had water that soaked the tennis … almost fell. … a pity that there was no way to register this in photo or video. Describing so not even close to how bizarre it was. But in the end, I thought you had to have some “emotion” in this trip…LOL
We were there waiting for the boat, the boy called her by name and we had to go through the people who crowded in front of the boat. To climb the boat had no stairs, but an old chair that Office.
Needless to say, I went up and the seat turned, almost fell and there was the guy in the boat myself ahead, a guy behind and I managed to come up with a little more dignity … LOL
The boat was small, the seats also without recline but more uncomfortable than Manaus to Tabatinga. So far so good, so be it.
Until the launch comes out and people start talking loud and complaining that the speedboat was too heavy and declared a side. The point is that the luggage goes on top of the boat and how not to do any weight control of luggage per person, had a crew that put up a chair on the roof!
Then when the boat stopped in the Coast Guard (Peru) the staff complained and the guard did the launch back to Santa Rosa. Getting there was the biggest quiprocó. The guard checked the luggage, took thing, saw who it was, explained that launch was of passengers and does not load … and I sitting there listening to everything and thinking:
1 hour after much squabble some people stayed in Santa Rosa (because they didn’t want to go on without luggage), others have left some luggage, (I did my part to help and left the patience there) and so we can move on.
In fact, I could feel a difference in the weight of the boat after that and I confess that hit a flea behind the ear if these local people had not bombed and spoken.
And so we followed trip. The boat stopped in a small town in the middle of the path that could be more ugly than Santa Rosa (I’ll talk about Santa Rosa specifically in the next post). Some people came to sell food and water.
The price of the ticket was included breakfast and lunch. Breakfast was coffee with milk and a loaf of bread with ham. Lunch was that here:
So I ask you: have you ever seen an olive in the middle of a mashed potatoes?!?!? Neither do I, but it was yummy … it’s like they say: hunger is the best spice.
Gone are the 10 hours and we arrive in Iquitos. The arrival is also not very glamorous. The boat slopes put a plank of wood which crossed while we took our backpacks. At the port, before entering the city, effectively the backpacks and bags are searched.
Look, I can say that overall the experience was a lot of fun, even with this last launch. It’s nice to go traveling at a speed more smooth (as in the firsts boats) and comply with the local people and their stories (some I heard and others that I was imagining in my head).
Now it’s an experiment to do without fussy. The food will always be the same, the shower is on top of the pot … these things.
At the same time I don’t think it’s a who’s adventurous/backpacker (well, maybe this final stretch Yes) and if you have the urge to make navigation even in Bethlehem to Santarém (hence that parade smart in Alter do Chão) I think its worth it. For me, it means a lot. =)
I’m going to take good memories from the trip for the rest of his life, until the bad part … LOL
p.s.: When we arrived in Iquitos had to wash the shoes because they were oh well….crap! In fact, it was smell bad as hell!
p.s.2: It has nothing to do with this post, but while the writing and review mentally movies of the boat, remembered a funny beast, but that always amuses me … and as I am of these to tell bad jokes, here it is:
A woman dies after facing a serious illness and lets her husband a widower. When it arrives at the gates of heaven to see your parents, your grandparents and all that had gone before her very happy in a beautiful field. St. Peter receives:
-Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven.
-Nice place. How do I enter?
-Is very simple. I’m going to say a word. If you spell it correctly on the first you enter; If you don’t, you’ll go straight to hell.
-Okay, what’s the word?
She spelled correctly and passed through the gates. About a year later, Saint Peter asked her to watch the gates that day to her surprise, her husband appeared.
-Hi! What a surprise! -She said. How are you?
-Oh, I have been very good since you died. I got married to that beautiful nurse that took care of you, I won the lottery and was a millionaire. I sold the House where we lived and bought a mansion. My wife and I travel all over the world. We were on vacation and I went skiing today. Ski hit my head and here I am. How do I enter, honey?
-I’m going to say a Word. If you spell it correctly on the first you enter, otherwise, go to hell.
-What’s the word?
-‘ SCHWARZENEGGER ‘ …
And that’s it for today folks. I hope you enjoyed the post. =)
If you want to ask something, anything, just leave a comment. I really love talking about travel. <3